Monday, March 10, 2008

Into The Cauldron


Liverpool Football Club is in the news this evening for the right reasons, & also, alas, the wrong ones too (more of which anon).
Tony Karon emails me with a link to his Rootless Cosmopolitan blog in the wake of a welcome return to form (http://tonykaron.com/2008/03/09/its-the-formation-stupid/ ), noting that "the reason Liverpool is winning again is that the 4-2-3-1 formation allows each of them to play his best game".
It might be recalled that I wasn't too optimistic before the first leg at Anfield. The Jeremiah in me feared the worst, but those qualms were well & truly dispelled by a stirring 2-0 victory.
Going into the second leg at San Siro, Liverpool's recent form fills me with a cautious confidence.
As Tony notes on his post, "Finally, Liverpool fans have reason to believe again, even if our beloved football club is currently the object of a bizarre game of chicken between rival billionaire investors."
On the subject of which..........
The news wires began to hum this afternoon on the news that Tom Hicks has decided to "terminate" talks with DIC: http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,2263987,00.html .
After yesterday's Texan tirade against alleged & perceived leaks to the media from DIC's corner over some of the negotiations, Hicks has now cited his chief reason for ending the talks:
"DIC made it clear that if they invested in the club, they would want it to be managed by committee. Based on my 13 years of successful experience as an owner of professional sports teams, and based in particular on the situation at Liverpool Football Club over the past year, it is clear to me that such a committee approach would not be in the best interest of Kop [Hicks' holding company], of the club or of the club's loyal and passionate supporters."
The fans' loyalty & passion was, of course, made evident to Tom Hicks Jnr. last month at the Sandon pub.
It's worth observing that much of the US sports media doesn't share Hicks' assessment of his 13 year involvement with sports Stateside as "successful".
The news will undoubtedly anger most fans after a growing belief, based on briefings to the media from both sides, that a deal was if not imminent, then well on the way to completion. Indeed, it was presented to some reporters as a fait accompli. I suspected that DIC saw their mooted 49% stake in the club as a stepping stone to full control. Hicks probably saw things that way, too, albeit, I'd wager, late in the day. Hence today's unexpected news.
Chaos still reigns; Gillett is as hard to track down as a virgin in a brothel & the whole ownership issue is even more of a mess than before.
What will further anger most fans is the timing of the announcement. Then again, Hicks has form here. On the eve of last year's Champions League Final in Athens he gave an interview in which he compared his & Gillett's Anfield takeover to his acquisition of Weetabix. It was a glib, dismissive & insulting analogy which was, pardon the pun, hard to swallow.
It's difficult to divine Hicks' deeper motives at present. Mind games are to be expected from this latterday JR Ewing figure, but, as his son's seemingly inexplicable decision to walk through the Sandon's doors indicates, this is a family which either doesn't know that it's exacerbating relations with the fans, or knows it only too well, but is inviting a disastrous rift with the supporters.

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